This Overtown theater mirrored its dilapidated surroundings when the Black Archives History and Research Foundation took possession in 1988. The roof bore a massive hole. A fire caused extensive damage to the interior. Birds claimed the abandoned rafters. Thanks to $1.5 million in grants and a ton of elbow grease, the 400-seat venue, built in 1913, celebrated its grand reopening this past March. Roof repairs keep the elements out and fresh paint adds a sparkling touch. A large mural on the south exterior wall depicts 27 black leaders. Inside, metal seats and clear sightlines invite patrons to relax in air-conditioned comfort. It's an invitingly intimate space. You can almost imagine what it must have been like when, in its heyday, the Lyric anchored an entertainment district frequented by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and many others. "Progress" in the form of I-95 and I-395 destroyed the neighborhood and threw it into poverty. The Lyric's restoration is a source of pride in black Miami and should serve as inspiration for Overtown's long-overdue revival.
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